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90s Slang You Should Know


[kur-nl] /ˈkɜr nl/
an officer in the U.S. Army, Air Force, or Marine Corps ranking between lieutenant colonel and brigadier general: corresponding to a captain in the U.S. Navy.
a commissioned officer of similar rank in the armed forces of some other nations.
an honorary title bestowed by some Southern states, as to those who have brought honor to the state, prominent businesspersons, visiting celebrities, or the like:
When the vice president visited the state he was made a Kentucky colonel.
Older Use. (in the South) a title of respect prefixed to the name of distinguished elderly men.
Origin of colonel
1540-50; < Middle French < Italian colon(n)ello, equivalent to colonn(a) column + -ello < Latin -ellus diminutive suffix; so named because such an officer originally headed the first column or company of a regiment
Related forms
colonelcy, noun
Pronunciation note
[kur-nl] /ˈkɜr nl/ (Show IPA)
with its medial l pronounced as [r] /r/ illustrates one source for the apparent vagaries of English spelling: divergence between a word's orthographic development and its established pronunciation. In this case, English borrowed from French two variant forms of the same word, one pronounced with medial and final [l] /l/ and a second reflecting dissimilation of the first [l] /l/ to [r] /r/ . After a period of competition, the dissimilated form triumphed in pronunciation, while the spelling colonel became the orthographic standard. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for colonel
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The colonel, who hated being interrupted, answered a little testily.

    The Avenger E. Phillips Oppenheim
  • I had no idea what the colonel intended to do until I went to his house this afternoon.

    Up the River Oliver Optic
  • And I went up to the consulate and had a talk with colonel Hefferan about it.

    Swept Out to Sea W. Bertram Foster
  • Owen was delighted with the decision of colonel Shepard when he accepted my invitation.

    Up the River Oliver Optic
  • And that was to say good-night to the colonel, and more frigidly to Miss Carvel herself.

    The Crisis, Complete Winston Churchill
British Dictionary definitions for colonel


an officer of land or air forces junior to a brigadier but senior to a lieutenant colonel
Derived Forms
colonelcy, colonelship, noun
Word Origin
C16: via Old French, from Old Italian colonnello column of soldiers, from colonnacolumn
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for colonel

1540s, coronell, from Middle French coronel (16c.), modified by dissimilation from Italian colonnella "commander of a column of soldiers at the head of a regiment," from compagna colonella "little column company," from Latin columna "pillar" (see hill). English spelling modified 1580s in learned writing to conform with the Italian form (via translations of Italian military manuals), and pronunciations with "r" and "l" coexisted 17c.-18c., but the earlier pronunciation prevailed. Spanish coronel, from Italian, shows a similar evolution by dissimilation.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for colonel


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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